Minimalist Family Camping

Camping at Carfest with kids – what to pack and how to pack it

Carfest is a brilliant adventure for kids of all ages, from the tiniest tots to teenagers (and, in fact, everyone!), but packing can feel daunting. If you are immersing yourselves in a whole weekend on site, it really helps to choose your camping gear carefully. By bringing exactly what you need and nothing more, you’ll be pitched, unpacked and ready to explore before your friends have found their mallet. And with less clutter under your canvas, staying tidy is a breeze. Just follow these five minimalist family camping rules:

1. Pack light!

The joy of minimalist family camping is being able to get set up as quickly as possible and start enjoying yourselves. You will need to transport your gear from the carpark to your pitch and car movement is not allowed during the event so pack as light as you can, as everything will need to be carried. Although carriages are available to hire (£6 for 30 minutes, no need to pre-book) dragging heavy kit around is hard work so why not aim to do it all in one or two trips instead of ten?


Leave half your usual kit behind! No need for swingball or salad bowls, fancy fold-out kitchens or fire pits. Festival camping is simple and care-free so make life much easier by bringing less.

  • Kids don’t need endless outdoor toys when there is CarFest to discover so I challenge you to leave them all at home.
  • Bring minimum food, just breakfast and snacks. There is plenty of food available onsite so save yourself the trouble of cooking/washing up by just buying whatever you fancy.

2. Pack small

Every tiny bit of space you can save by choosing tiny packs adds up to a big space saving. Think about the size of your washing up liquid, shampoo, wipes, ketchup, gin (!) … everything in a bottle or box can usually be downsized. On a short camping trip you won’t use alot of anything so go small if you can.


  • compact travel towels save tons of space. Decathlon’s microfibre towels, for example, are cheap, large but incredibly compact and come in a range of colours, one for each family member
  • Source a set of small bottles and decant your liquids into them. Old ice-cream tubs can be repurposed to store your collection of tiny but useful items.

3. Choose compact kit

Have a look at your camping kit, what takes up the most space? Can you source a smaller replacement? There are some fantastic light-weight folding products available for campers and although the best seem to be marketed at hikers they are perfect for families too. We have gradually changed our tent, chairs, saucepans, mugs, cutlery, bbq, sleeping bags and pillows to more compact upgrades and overall its made a huge difference to the size of our gear.


  • Bring the smallest tent you can get away with. You won’t be spending much time inside it so just need enough room for the whole family to lie down, plus a small porch to store equipment. Buy or borrow a tent that packs down small and is quick to pitch.
  • To keep warm at night each person just needs a sleeping bag, insulated self-inflating mattress, thermal underwear and a hat. If you get cold add another layer of clothes. Or put a foil emergency blanket under each mattress (they pack up really small and keep body heat in the cold out). The key is to use self-inflating mattresses which store your body heat rather than airbeds which store cold air and cool your body down.

4. Book a pre-pitched tent

At Carfest this year there is pre-prepared accomodation available. Cabins, bell-tents and 2 to 8-man tents can be ready and waiting for you. For an extra fee some of these can be kitted out for you but you may still need to bring some of your own equipment. Most of these have now sold out, but if you are one of the lucky ones to have booked check what’s included carefully and be sure to pack the rest.

5. Bring minimum food

Just pack breakfast and snacks for the kids. There is lots of delicious food to buy while you’re out and about around the festival so treat yourselves. There are some amazing chefs on site, an artisan food market, Vintage Village tea room, Mexican, Japanese, Thai… so much choice. Enjoy!!

For all you Radio 2 listeners, lets not forget biscuits and, of course, sandwich fillings… both close to Chis Evans’ heart.

So the ideal biscuits for Carfest, and indeed any festival, would be filling and plentiful with minimal packaging. Anything that has lots in a pack (not Jammie Dodgers or Party Rings unfortunately). Maybe Hobnobs, Bourbons, Digestives, Maryland Cookies, Oreos… but beware of melting chocolate if its hot. Chocolate Chip Hob Nobs would be my choice! And for sandwiches, it would have to be something that doesn’t need to be kept cold as you’ll be in field for days with no fridge. So maybe Tuna and Sweetcorn, Peanut Butter… If you have tiny tots with you it would be worth carrying a small pack of sandwiches everywhere you go to get them from hangry to happy in seconds, neatly avoiding the need to leave the band you’re watching or queue up while they scream for food!

For a list of exactly what to pack for family festival camping and how to pack it, download our check list here.

Hope you have a WONDERFUL TIME!!!


#carfest #familyfestival #carfestcamping #carfestwithkids #festivalpackinglist #carfestcampingchecklist

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